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Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks: Matchups to watch revisited

Having a look at the results post-game, let’s revisit the matchups to watch, determining which side won each of the battles within the war.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams traveled to the Pacific Northwest to face the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football, ultimately coming up just shy on a potential game-winning field goal attempt, losing the game 30-29. Both teams had moments of highly impressive play, sandwiched with moments of lackluster play included.

Let’s revisit the matchups to watch:

RT Rob Havenstein versus EDGE Jadeveon Clowney

Last week’s matchup to watch:

The entirety of the Rams’ offensive line has struggled, though right tackle Rob Havenstein is specifically being singled out as he’ll draw the tough assignment in edge Jadeveon Clowney. Havenstein won’t be the only offensive lineman tasked with blocking Clowney though, as Clowney does move around the formation, even as a stand-up linebacker. Havenstein has struggled tremendously through four games, and Clowney comes into this contest with a sack, an interception, a touchdown, a tackle for loss, and a quarterback hit, which could be considered as underwhelming for a player of his caliber. Havenstein — and the entirety of the offensive line — simply need to do a much better job of protecting quarterback Jared Goff.

Edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney was nearly invisible last night, both on the stat sheet (three tackles, one tackle for loss) and on the eye. Right tackle Rob Havenstein — and the entire offensive line — put together a far more impressive performance than they did in week four, proving they have the talent to get it done on a weekly basis. Havenstein — who was one of the lineman who struggled the most this season — had a quiet game, and outside of one false start where every offensive lineman not named Brian Allen jumped, he was great.

CB Nickell Robey-Coleman versus WR Tyler Lockett

Last week’s matchup to watch:

Wide receiver Tyler Lockett will likely get a piece of every Rams’ cornerback in coverage, though Lockett often does his most damage from the slot, and specifically when quarterback Russell Wilson goes into “scramble mode” and out of the structure of a play. When Lockett is lined up in the slot, he’ll be guarded by nickel cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. Robey-Coleman has struggled the past two weeks, with another incredibly tough matchup this week against the diminutive and explosive Lockett.

As usual, Tyler Lockett was a thorn in the Rams’ side as he registered four receptions for 51 yards and one touchdown, reeling in all four of his targets. The Seahawks didn’t make it a point of emphasis to target Lockett much at all in this contest, though he was wide open on three of his receptions, with his fourth being one of the best endzone/tip-toe touchdown catches you’ll ever see.

RB Todd Gurley versus Seattle’s Front-7

Last week’s matchup to watch:

Todd Gurley received only five rushing attempts last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Regardless of the score, that just isn’t acceptable for a player of his caliber. Dating back to 2018, Gurley had two successful contests against the Seahawks, combining for 197 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns, seven receptions, and 76 receiving yards. The Seahawks’ front-seven is lead by superstar middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, among others. A pissed off Gurley is not the Gurley you want to see on a short week. Head Coach Sean McVay has to do a better job of getting Gurley involved early and often in this contest.

Todd Gurley’s numbers wont blow anyone away, though it was good to see him finally included in the gameplan, with heavy doses of #30 on certain drives. Gurley finished the game with 15 carries for 51 rushing yards, two touchdowns, and three receptions for six yards. His per-touch-production was nothing impressive, yet, to even see him get a shot felt good. It also goes to show just how important the rushing attack is to the Rams’ offense, because it’s quite clear how much more efficient and productive the offense becomes when defenses have to defend a potential rushing attack from the Rams.

WR Brandin Cooks versus CB Tre’ Flowers

Last week’s matchup to watch:

Pegging which Rams’ receiver will have the best game is incredibly tough as all three are capable of exploding at any moments notice, though I’ll side with Brandin Cooks in this one. Why? Well, just last week you began to see life in the Rams’ offense, specifically on a play where the Rams ran a split zone play action pass that had Cooks wide open on a post-corner route for a walk-in 50-yard touchdown. Quarterback Jared Goff overthrew Cooks as the pocket was muddied, though I expect the Rams to get back to what they know best in this contest. Allow Goff to get under center, establish some semblance of a rushing attack, and then hit the Seahawks with a deep shot in play action. Cornerback Tre’ Flowers will probably get the most amount of snaps against Cooks, leaving him as the ascending player to watch in this contest.

Like I said in the matchups to watch piece, pegging the Rams’ plans at receiver is damn near impossible, and it proved to be once again with Brandin Cooks only touching the ball twice: once for a 27-yard rush and once for a 29-yard reception. Cooks was hurt on the catch (which was a beautiful pass and catch) and ultimately missed the remainder of the game. He was evaluated for a concussion.

Rams’ Defensive Line versus Seattles’ Offensive Line

Last week’s matchup to watch:

The Rams’ defense as a whole was terrible in week four, though no unit was less productive than the defensive line. Outside of a handful of reps, they did almost nothing to bring discomfort to Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback Jameis Winston. It starts with defensive tackle Aaron Donald — who had the quietest game he’s had in a long time — and trickles down to the remainder of the defensive line, specifically edge rushers Dante Fowler Jr. and Clay Matthews. The two need to apply more pressure in one-on-one situations, because the lack of the ability from them to get home has Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips running all kinds of elaborate stunts, which are often times even less effective. The Seahawks are not known for their offensive line play, specifically at left guard (Ethan Pocic), right guard (D.J. Fluker), and right tackle (Germain Ifedi), giving the Rams’ defensive line a prime chance to redeem themselves.

The defensive line actually applied a good amount of pressure, though they missed many opportunities to create big plays such as sacks, simply due to a lack of wrapping up and tackling. The biggest impact came from defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who resided in the Seahawks’ backfield, affecting passes and runs on too many occasions to count. The only defensive lineman to register a sack was edge Clay Matthews, though it may as well be attributed to Donald as he occupied three offensive lineman, allowing Matthews a free rush to quarterback Russell Wilson.